sustainable learning spaces

Designing Our Future: Sustaining Space and Encountering eWaste

Kristi Apostel, Smarthinking
Shawn Apostel, Bellarmine University

Mobile Devices in Education
Tablets Usage Increases
Recycling Programs

Recycling Programs

Perhaps some of the more popular and well-known outlets for recycling electronics comes from their producers. Previously reporting on electronics and computer recycling, Apostel and Apostel (2007) reported on efforts from companies like Apple, HP, and Dell. Apple has continued this momentum, and is joined by competitors like Samsung and Blackberry. Through their mobile devices recycling program, Apple offers users gift cards in exchange for the monetary value of outdated devices like iPhones and iPads (“Apple Recycling Program,” n.d., para. 1). Even if the device’s value has all but expired, Apple promises to still recycle it responsibly, saying: “At no cost to you, send us your iPod or any mobile phone by mail, and we’ll recycle it for you. Or bring your old iPod to an Apple Retail Store and get 10 percent off a new one” (para. 2). To-date, Samsung, which stands behind a commitment to a greener future, has “partnered directly with respected take-back and recycling companies that do not incinerate, send to solid waste landfill, or export toxic waste” to recycle more than 349 million lbs. of e-waste (“Recycling Direct,” n.d., para. 2). Through Samsung’s mobile take-back program, users can fill out and print forms online that enable them to mail in old devices or deposit them at a large number of drop-off locations across the U.S. (para. 3). Blackberry’s recycling program is similar, as they ask users to help reduce the impact of unwanted BlackBerry Playbook tablets, smartphones, and/or any peripherals and electrical accessories (“BlackBerry Recycling Program,” n.d., para. 1).

Independent recycling contractors have also emerged to offer take-back programs for mobile devices. One of these, eCycle Best, is made up of “an affiliation of U.S. companies that support responsible gadget ownership and recycling,” promising to “only recycle gadgets inside the United States” to boost recycling efforts in the country (para. 1). To do so, eCycle Best’s programs mimics Samsung’s and BlackBerry’s by offering people cash in exchange for their outdated devices. Through a three step process, which includes getting a quote for the device from their online estimator, shipping the device, and then getting the cash in return, users can responsibly recycle and be rewarded, as eCycle terms it, within 2-5 business days.

Admittedly, if every school system and university followed these methods, companies and contractors would probably be overwhelmed, as their programs cater more to individual users. For those schools that don’t engage in BYOD programs, however, other opportunities for safe and ethically responsible recycling are available. Some states, including Indiana, require that public schools recycle through state programs. Indiana’s program began in 2009, when the Indiana Electronic Waste Law was passed (Indiana Department of Environmental Management, 2013, p. 1). Due to the belief that electronics producers should share in the responsibility for managing their own products at end of life, the program requires manufacturers to collect and recycle e-waste from homes, business, and public schools (p. 3). Having risen the standards, manufacturers in Indiana exceeded their obligations in the first three years of the program, recycling over 66 million lbs. of e-waste, a significant portion of which came from their public schools (p. 1.)

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